The winds of change start with creativity

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) is teaching businesses how to become masters of organisational change in 2021.

AME president Barry McCarthy said the journey of growth for organisations begins with educating individual staff members on how to work on their efficiency and effectiveness – wherever they may be working from.

“We tend to live our work rather than really analyse it,” he said.

“If you get rid of the meaningless work, sometimes you can automate some of your work, you can move it around, you can align it a bit better. Fundamentally, what we’re after is to help people reduce stress and not work harder, but smarter.”

At the centre of organisational change is helping individual workers achieve good workflow.

“When doing this previously, we’ve achieved some good results and awareness for people, because you get used to doing patterns of work, and you don’t realise there’s more efficient and more effective ways do it,” McCarthy said.

“That may be communicating with people who supply you with materials, so you’re not delayed when things are moved around. It’s very foundational.”

The Mastering Change series beginning in March 2021 will consist of short, targeted web-based sessions to better understand and plan a different work approach, followed by a week to apply and practice the approach.

The participants then compare differences and take action to embed a new practice. The applied learning structure will measure the effectiveness of the development with measures and indicators at the end of the program. The activity-based program will also allocate time for networking and sharing experiences.

At the end of the seven weeks, participants report back on the effectiveness and the efficiency they have gained in their work.

“What people don’t tend to do a lot is compress their work as much as possible, and therefore, they don’t free up time to engage in more creative work from the organisation,” McCarthy said.

A long-term journey

The COVID-19 pandemic has incentivised companies to develop five-year roadmaps to make continuous change possible, according to McCarthy.

“What people now realise is that those processes that they thought were good, were only as good as the environment they were in. They had weaknesses in these processes,” he said.

“Companies are starting to look at their fundamental processes and start from scratch to rebuild.

“People are starting to realise that these changes you make in businesses, and when we’re talking about continuous change, cannot be done in just six months.”

This year’s AME Conference seeks case studies inside particular businesses and getting people inside the businesses that have implemented change in their workplace.

“In the past, at most conferences, people focus on the success stories and what works well. And they don’t really identify the problems, the struggles and issues they’ve faced along the way,” AME business manager Laura Robertson said.

“Our events for next year are trying to encourage the presenters to share the negatives, so people can really understand how they dealt with that and what steps they took to get to the other side, and see that other people actually do come across these problems and issues.”

Research conducted by AME shows when people go to conferences, they talk about problems roughly 10 per cent of the time, and 90 per cent of the time, they talk about how well they did in implementing a solution.

“What we would like is rather than people spending 10 per cent to their time on the problem, maybe we can spend up to 50 to 60 per cent of the time so people in the audience can really understand the problem, and then the presenters can talk to their solution in the back half,” McCarthy said.

“It’ll be a bit of a change for our presenters. That’s the difference we want to make with our half-yearly conference.”